Do you ever find yourself hiding behind a mask. As adults we are really good at putting on our public “face” and not allowing anyone to see what’s really going on inside.
At times – these masks even come in handy. I put on my “I mean business face” when I need action and I need it NOW! People stop chit chatting and jump to comply with my authority. My “mean mom” face gets a lot more action out of my teen girls when it’s time to clean the house than my ‘understanding, you can confide in me face’ which means I clean the house by myself.
But the question for today is…
Are you wearing a mask when you coach and should you?
I’m working on being in better alignment with my own habits. After all this is partly why I went into the Yoga Health Coaching program. When I’m coaching I have to lead by example and that’s keeps me in line. But can I do it on my own when there is no course running? Can I go deeper on my habit growth curve and get more of the habits to be automatic?
I find as I explore getting better habit integrity that I’m hiding behind masks.
My leader, “she’s got it all together” mask is often a front for what is really going on inside and this false front is keeping me from being truly honest with myself and tackling the deeper issues. I find myself “hiding” the fact that I was working at 10pm by scheduling emails to arrive in the early morning hours instead of admitting I was working late or doing anything to change my patterns even though I know that I’m sacrificing tomorrow’s energy by trying to get the last few things done.
In Japanese Culture these masks are a given part of how society works. They even have names.
Honne – is the true sound, our true nature. It’s often seen as being in conflict with what’s expected in society and kept hidden. It’s that side of you that is only revealed to close friends.
Tatemae – is your built-in facade. The front that you put up to conform to what’s expected in society and by your “position”. To keep up appearances this outer mask “leads to the outright telling of lies, because the true inner-most feelings don’t want to get exposed.” (Wikipedia)
This outer mask hides our true nature and prevents conflict.
Conflict though is what leads to change, transformation and growth. As Cate presented at the last Yoga Healer retreat when we create effective teams (or coaching groups) after trust, conflict is the next building block for an effective team. Letting go of the fear of conflict allows us to get to the root of an issue where we can truly transform.
- Back in the 1960’s D.W. Winnicott coined the terms “True Self” and “False Self” in psychoanalysis.
- The True Self being; spontaneous and authentic, the feeling of being alive, and our “feeling” self.
- The False Self is a defensive facade or an appearance of being real. It lacks spontaneity and feels empty.
These concepts ring true for many yogis as the “self” and the “ego” we study in the sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Our habits are another way for us to uncover that true self when we allow the masks to slip away, dive deeper into conflict and truly transform.
The cue to how thick my mask can be is when feedback from clients is the polar opposite from how I feel inside.
- You’re always so calm (I’m in full panic attack mode)
- You’ve got it all together (I feel like a mess inside)
- You do so much (I don’t get nearly enough done in a day)
- You’re such a success (My business is in financial crisis)
How can our outer persona be so different from what’s going on in our own minds?
Is Your Mask Holding You Back and Your Clients?
- No one will work with me if they know what I’m really like inside.
- My clients respond better if I’m confident and in charge.
- Someone needs to be strong for them to feel safe.
What mask are you wearing when you coach? Do you have an “I have it all together mask” Or as another coach I spoke to told me, she has the opposite mask. Her students and clients see a “fun loving, easygoing” persona, while inside she’s an intensely deep thinker with frequent anxiety attacks.
At times the masks almost seem natural – it’s our going to work face.
Have you ever considered how this mask might be holding you and your clients back?
My outer mask allows me to hide and live out of integrity with myself. When I’m wearing my mask I’m not truly admitting where I am truly at with my habits. And this allows me to be less than my true potential.
The masks also…
- Give your coaching clients an excuse; “She really doesn’t get it, I don’t need to follow her advice, she’s never experienced this.”
- Sets a distance between you and your clients, making it hard to connect heart to heart.
- Makes the coaching experience all about perfection, guilt, and punishment instead of the realities of life.
But the truth is that the work we do as coaches is on a level that goes deeper than the conversations we have in “society.” There is a connection that happens on a level that’s below the mask. Thus the distance that the mask puts between you and your clients is hindering both your growth and theirs.
In this deep work the mask is not invisible, it’s seen by the heart and creates a disconnect that may be unconsciously pushing clients away or allowing current clients to hide behind their own masks and avoid making a deeper transformation.
The trick then is how do we peel away the mask?
Will it be a Kaizen approach or cold turkey… For me, my masks are so deep that it’s going to have to be Kaizen. It will start with acknowledging the masks, admitting when I’m not in integrity. First to myself and also to my tribe.
Next will be a scorecard to track what’s really going on and to keep me motivated to step it up a notch (I’m a sucker for the adult sticker charts where you colour in the mandalas!). I’ve got an accountability partner onside to help with support and I’ll report back and let you know how it’s really going!
Action Steps for Striping Away the Masks
- I’m tackling all 10 habits at once – after all I’ve been through them many times before it’s time to step up and let them do their job.
- Besides when I’ve gone through it before focussing on one a week I tend to let the others slide and don’t feel the full effect of the habit stacking.
- I want to start moving deeper so I need the full base-line that you get from the habits to see this success.
- I’ve set a baseline for each of the habits and then I’ll start fine tuning and pushing the growth edge from there once that is sustainable.
Where are we Aiming?
I’m not aiming for 100% – If I can do 50% in the first week, 60% the next I’ll be at 80% by month end which will be amazing. Slow and steady…
I’m checking in with my partner once a week and I’ll post my sticker chart on the YHC forum to access the collective energy of the group. Peeling away at the mask that says I need to be perfect and should have had these together long ago!
To make this fun and not punishment I am viewing this as a challenge – anyone else want to join in feel free to print out your own “sticker chart” and play along!
I’ll report back and let you know how it’s really going!